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April 6, 2010

'MOSTLY FREE'.... The Heritage Foundation, one of the right's leading think tanks, has downgraded the United States on its "Index of Economic Freedom," which ranks the planet's 179 countries. Americans were "free," Heritage found, but now we're only "mostly free."

The Heritage Foundation's latest world ranking of economic freedoms shows the U.S. falling farther than any other large economy in the world. The foundation says the TARP Program, the auto industry bailout and the stimulus package, among other factors, have caused in the country's economy to go from "free" to "mostly free." [...]

Factors like business regulation, the labor market, monetary stability, property rights and corruption are used to determine the rankings.

Terry Miller, director of the Center of International Trade And Economics at the Heritage Foundation, says the U.S. ranking may continue to fall.

"Certainly looking at the government policies that have been followed over the last year, since our last data cut off, I'm very concerned," Miller told TPM, adding that health care reform was likely to further hurt our economic freedom.

So, who are the shining beacons of liberty -- i.e., countries that meet the Heritage threshold for being actually economically free? The United States is eighth, behind Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland, and Canada, in that order.

Yes, the Heritage Foundation would be more satisfied if our economic freedoms were more in line with countries that have socialized medicine, impose higher tax rates, and in Ireland's case, is in need of a massive bailout to prevent a catastrophe.

Steve Benen 2:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (51)

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Consistency is for the little people.

Posted by: Gummo on April 6, 2010 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Geez, just wait until they factor in the "loss of freedom" from the mostly Heritage Foundation's points in the ACA.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 6, 2010 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

The right-wing rallying cry, "Why can't we be more like Canada?"

Posted by: AK Liberal on April 6, 2010 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

I lived in New Zealand for a bit, and it is a truly wonderful place, but the role of government in industry is comparatively high vs. the US, including ownership of an airline and TV networks among other things. Taxation is higher and regulatory authority much broader.

Heritage must have cooked the books with their methodology.

Posted by: Dave on April 6, 2010 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Groups like Heritage have an irony deficiency.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on April 6, 2010 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Heritage must have cooked the books with their methodology.

Near as I can tell, there is no methodology. While it is from a "think tank," and is made up all pretty to look very exacting, when you read the write-ups for individual elements of the score, you find things like "we deducted 10 points because things seem to be getting worse" -- wholly arbitrary amounts for wholly subjective reasons.

Posted by: zeitgeist on April 6, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Heritage must have cooked the books with their methodology.

That should be carved into the plaster above the main entryway to Heritage. Maybe translated into Latin.

Posted by: Elvis Elvisberg on April 6, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Factors like business regulation, the labor market, monetary stability, property rights and corruption are used to determine the rankings.

Is the Heritage Foundation in favor of corruption or are they agin it?

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 6, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Irland's entire banking system was nationalized.

Posted by: mikefromArlington on April 6, 2010 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

They are lying holes...why would anybody even CARE what they think???

Posted by: SYSPROG on April 6, 2010 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

So, the Villainous Robber Barons are no longer totally free; they are only "mostly" free. Maybe we can translate this to mean that "secret discussions related to criminal indictments are ongoing."

By the way, their "list" is an absolute hoot. We're "less free" than such renowned economic powerhouses as Cuba and North Korea.

Don't take my word for it; follow the links. We are LESS FREE THAN NORTH KOREA!

BWAH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

Posted by: S. Waybright on April 6, 2010 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Hong Kong and Singapore are nos. 1 and 2!!!!!

And we are supposed to take this ranking seriously?

Was this released last week on April 1?

Posted by: MW on April 6, 2010 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

So we can become a notch more "free" by modeling both our health care system and our bank regulations after Canada's? Go for it!

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on April 6, 2010 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

"Free" to HF, means being able to spend nearly 2 grand at a Lesbian Bondage club and be able to write it off as n an entertainment expense. "Mostly free:, means getting called to the carpet on your frat-boy binging.

Posted by: johnnymags on April 6, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

I love it!! How far and wide can this ranking be spread!! I see teabagger and Republican heads exploding all over the US.

Posted by: IndigoJoe on April 6, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

why do they hate America, downgrading it so?

why, on the Zeitgeist Institute's Kleptocracy Freedom Index, we're #1!

Freedom of Club for Growth Types of Lie Without Consequence? 100%!

Freedom to make unlimited profits while other citizens starve or go without basic shelter? 99.9%!

Freedom for white collar criminals from doing hard time? At least 80%!

No one else can offer freedom like that!

Posted by: zeitgeist on April 6, 2010 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

"Consistency is for the little people."

Posted by: Gummo

"Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds,
beloved by politicians, statesmen and devines."

"So, the Villainous Robber Barons are no longer totally free; they are only "mostly" free."

Posted by: S. Waybright

"Your friend is only 'mostly dead'. 'Mostly dead is partially alive. If he was all dead there only be one thing to do. Go through his pockets looking for loose change."

As you can see, I'm not taking this report too seriously.

Posted by: Lance on April 6, 2010 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Why does the Heritage Foundation hate America?

Did Miller have a straight face when he issued this? TARP, the stimulus, and auto bailout were emergency procedures to save the economy from the ravages of right wing fiscal policy. The labor market is still suffering from it and is made worse by the free market champions who shipped our jobs to Asia. But to the right wing brainiacs at Heritage, this is somehow all the fault of Obama and the Dems. Pathetic.

Posted by: JoeW on April 6, 2010 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Well according to my copy of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, this entire planet is "mostly harmless."

Posted by: melvin rose on April 6, 2010 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, my sides...

Singapore, where being caught with chewing gum can earn you a caning, is a bastion of freedom.

Posted by: Arachnae on April 6, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

So the banks can no longer raise your interest rate from 5% to 30% with no notice, and the insurance companies can no longer take your money for years and drop you when you finally make a claim. Corporations have to clean up their own messes and will be charged if they poison your food or your children's toys.

That to the Heritage foundation is a loss of freedom?

They didn't mind at all when the last president decided he didn't need a warrant to spy on you, or read your mail, or "disappear you after calling you a terrorist and taking away your right to a trial. They didn't mind at all when the "liberals" were kept in "free speech zones" where those in power wouldn't be forced to see that anyone disagreed with their draconian policies. They didn't mind when torture became acceptable and accountability was treason.

Do they have any idea how stupid they sound for a group that calls itself a "Think Tank"?

Posted by: atlliberal on April 6, 2010 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Now mostly retarded...

Posted by: Trollop on April 6, 2010 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, the Young Eagle Republicans are still free enough to go to simulated bondage bars. There they can pretend that they are "cool" like all the other Club Kids tripping out on X.

So it is with the people at the Hertiage Foundation who are still free enough to earn a living in a simulated "mostly free" society. Here they can pretend they are "cool" like all the other Club Kids tripping out on X.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on April 6, 2010 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Singapore? *SINGAPORE?* FFS, call Singapore whatever you want, but a beacon of freedom it is not. But hey, who cares about political freedom or personal freedom when you can run a bank without the government trying to get all up in your business with their pesky regulations...

Posted by: EdTheRed on April 6, 2010 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

"Mostly Free"? Coming from the Heritage F., that's almost a compliment.

Posted by: leo on April 6, 2010 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

While many of you are mentioning strictly freedom, the point Heritage is discussing is economic freedom, what ever they define that as. I haven't looked at the report since I would puke. I think anyone is still economically free to spend their money wherever they like. Health reform shifted payments (read tax dollars) to hospitals through medicare disproportionate share hospital funding in the $billions each year for treating the uninsured, to personal responsibility that you pay your own way. Isn't that what the personal responsibility crowd stands for? What a bunch of self interest morons that don't even stand for their own convictions.

Off topic but an arrest in Washington for a threat to kill Senator Murray from a 64 year old who is probably on SS and medicare due to his outrage over health reform.

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/417979_murray06.html

Posted by: flyonthewall on April 6, 2010 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

I am trying to understand their method for calculation. By their calculation we are 67.5 free relative to taxation with revenue at 28.3% of GDP, but Canada has a higher grade with higher level of taxation! These books are cooked!

Posted by: jls on April 6, 2010 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Certainly looking at the government policies that have been followed over the last year, since our last data cut off, I'm very concerned," Miller told TPM, adding that health care reform was likely to further hurt our economic freedom.

Oh I'm sure you're very concerned about all sorts of imaginary threats in the little alternate reality you nuts have created for yourselves.

But what the heck--onward to single payer and greater freedom--like Canada!

Posted by: Allan Snyder on April 6, 2010 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom. I don't think that word means what they think it means.

Posted by: atlliberal on April 6, 2010 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

if only more working class Americans would realize that our highest score -- nearly perfect! -- comes in the freedom to fire or otherwise mistreat workers. how fortunate for Americans! how proud we should be!

Posted by: zeitgeist on April 6, 2010 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Yet oddly, they and ilk have always bragged about how we're the freest country on Earth, etc. BTW, there aren't any libertarian paradises out there, are there? - I mean modern ones. No other nation followed truly libertarian policies and was successful. Switzerland comes close, but has lots of banking savvy and taxes not much different from ours (ie, not radically low.)

BTW, the below is instructive, showing nations with lowest tax to GDP ratio (note, most of them are third-world, most of the rest have so much oil they don't need taxes):

http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=218266

Posted by: neil b on April 6, 2010 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Don't worry folks.

If we elect a Republican president, I'm sure the HF will be happy to put us back in the top 5.

Palin / Bachmann 2012, bay-bee!

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on April 6, 2010 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

"The Heritage Foundation, one of the right's leading think tanks, has downgraded the United States on its 'Index of Economic Freedom' "

This a perversion of the 'United Nations Human Freedom Index':


38 - Sweden
38 - Denmark
37 - Netherlands
36 - Austria
36 - Finland
35 - France
35 - Germany
34 - Canada
34 - Switzerland
33 - Australia
33 - United States
32 - Japan
32 - United Kingdom

(0 = least freedom, 40 = most freedom)


Singapore is a fucking police state.

Posted by: Joe Friday on April 6, 2010 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Hong Kong = city

China = country

So, we are less free than China?
Sounds like more right wing bullshit.

Posted by: rawls on April 6, 2010 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Updating Kris Kristofferson's lyrics, "Freedom's just another word for punching a 2010 time clock, and getting paid in 1970 dollars. . ."

Posted by: DAY on April 6, 2010 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

We're actually ninth. The Heritage Foundation forgot to list Somalia, which I'm sure would be #1.

Posted by: reino on April 6, 2010 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Singapore? Have these ignoramuses ever been to Singapore? Sure, you can't spit in the street or eat durian on the subway. You also can't own your own taxi if you’re a cabby, go to the casino if you're a local (it's for tourists only), or needless to say form a labor union. It has to be one of the most controlling (if paternalistic) governments on the face of the earth. The government even posts signs in the grocery telling you to eat your sushi within 2 hours of buying it. The Heritage Foundation just likes the fact most of the wealth is held by a few, who in turn make all the rules for every one else.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on April 6, 2010 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Lance, you beat me to it. That's the first thing that popped into my mind when I read "mostly free." Too funny!

Posted by: CatStaff on April 6, 2010 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

reino beat me to it. Somalia is obviously the most free economy out there, per Heritage standards.

Does anyone really listen to the blatantly self-interested hacks at Heritage anymore? Really?

Posted by: Jon on April 6, 2010 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

The freedom to die prematurely and unnecessarilyy and to be bankrupted by lack of healthcare insurance must not be infringed.

Posted by: bob h on April 6, 2010 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Singapore? So when does a dictatorship qualify as more free than the US?!

And apparently it doesn't matter to the Heritage Foundation that censorship in the press is alive and well in the island nation.


PS And you better not chew gum while visiting.

Posted by: lou on April 6, 2010 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Mostly Harmless.

Posted by: Davran on April 6, 2010 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

The HF -- any legitemacy it might have had is gone.

Posted by: JWK on April 6, 2010 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, in Northern Virginia, they are planning on closing the only planetarium and anything else that isn't susceptible to surveillance or company ownership. Science, go away!

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/save-the-arlington-va-david-m-brown-planetarium

Posted by: anon on April 6, 2010 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Several weeks ago some HF tool was here, giving keen insight to some of the poly sci classes here [taught, of course by a subtool for the HF]. I did not go to the lecture. But, the summary discussed a series of complete lies, fabrications, and mis representations.

Posted by: bigtuna on April 6, 2010 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

Ah Heritage!

Their motto: "Only slightly loopier than AEI!"

Posted by: Bruce Webb on April 6, 2010 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

HONG KONG IS NOT A NATION!!!!

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on April 6, 2010 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

The whole survey doesn't make any sense. I've lived in Australia for six years and if there is a more deregulated economic sector there than there is here, I can't think what it would be.

Why even bother putting crap like this out? It's completly counterproductive, not even the trolls will defend this shit.

Posted by: sweaty guy on April 6, 2010 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

actually, this list was supposed to be released last thursday.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on April 6, 2010 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK


According to the Human Rights Watch World Report 2010, "Singapore remains the textbook example of a politically repressive state. Individuals who want to criticize or challenge the ruling party's hold on power can expect to face a life of harassment, lawsuits, and even prison." Oh, and Hong Kong is part of freedom-loving China.

Heritage has it's notion of freedom all wrong. Locke used the phrase life, liberty and property and deliberately put property last. Jefferson substituted property for George Mason's notion of the "pursuit of happiness."

We'll know we've lost our freedom when overtly political, hack institutions like Heritage are closed down and their staffs taken out in chains. Until then, don't worry, be happy.


The 612-page report, the organization's 20th annual review of human rights practices around the globe, summarizes major human rights trends in more than 90 nations and territories worldwide. Its chapter on Singapore says the government fails to meet human rights standards in a number of critical areas, including freedom of expression, association, and assembly. While Singapore has touted its prowess as a leading economic nation in Southeast Asia, it continues to falter in respecting the rights of its own population, Human Rights Watch said

"Singapore remains the textbook example of a politically repressive state," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Individuals who want to criticize or challenge the ruling party's hold on power can expect to face a life of harassment, lawsuits, and even prison."

Posted by: Bob on April 7, 2010 at 6:36 AM | PERMALINK

Singapore! Singapore!
There is no opposition in Singapore. It's a one Party state. Heritage does not have a clue.
Make any allegation in any forum against the government and you will be sued to the last penny and more.

Posted by: John C on April 7, 2010 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK
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